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Highbury Park Management Plan (Perspective and Vision)

A Vision for Highbury Park (Community) Woodland and community engagement
Woodland Wednesday Volunteers and Rangers - Jan(Ranger), Jim, Connor, Deby, Alf (Ranger), Stefanie, Terry, Roy, Jeremy, Barry, Mark
There are a few good examples of ‘Community Woodlands’ around the country, usually in situations in which typically there is strong community interest involving keen amateur woodland managers, enthusiastic stalwarts and experts in collaboration to conserve their local woods in the ‘olde waye', following practices from the past four thousand years.
A crucial element to a successfully managed community woodland is a dedicated band of men, women and children, keen physically, spiritually and mindfully to engage with the ecology, fibre, structure  and ‘crafting’ involved in ‘traditional’ woodland management. 
Traditional in the sense of managing for products, many which are little required during the latter part of the 20th Century, but which might just come back into their own, either as novelty, must-have 21st Century 'earth connectors' or by design, in competition with other trend materials, or even as essentials as the concepts of 'dwindling earth resources' and sustainability is considered in our every move.
‘Biodiversity’ is a 21st Century driving factor, along with our woodland stalwarts, as the natural world is systematically ‘capitalised’ and degraded, but let us not forget that woodlands in the UK were industrialised over a thousand year period until the 1950’s resulting in the ecological make up we have to day.
The single aim of this vision is to see ‘working woodlands’ once again, in which every aspect of the woodland is considered and managed for productive purpose. The identification of products is therefore paramount, and as in all products 'marketing' is required to compete in a local economy. 
The woodland product, and resource may include aspects other than the physical timber produce - thus the 21st century concept of 'natural capital' gains a heading. 

Natural Capital can be defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things.
It is from this Natural Capital that humans derive a wide range of services, often called ecosystem services, which make human life possible.
The most obvious ecosystem services include the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines. There are also many less visible ecosystem services such as the climate regulation and natural flood defences provided by forests, the billions of tonnes of carbon stored by peatlands, or the pollination of crops by insects. Even less visible are cultural ecosystem services such as the inspiration we take from wildlife and the natural environment
Wildlife, for example with managed habitats, including the identification of non-intervention areas together with  opportunities for succession with the aim of improving biodiversity.
The outdoor classroom, linked to local schools, colleges and social support agencies. There is much talk of the benefits of learning outdoors but schools are somewhat lacking the imagination to take advantage, marketing here is crucial. 

Check out Down To Earth on Facebook -
Coppice products (small timber)
Coppice crafts (saleable at farmers markets)
Larger structural timbers (identified, valued and marketed)
Adventure play space with fallen logs, rope swings, dens etc.
Recreational setting, picnic space
Biomass for fuel (firewood or charcoal)
Each product is a result of carefully planned and managed space, taking into account the needs of other space users, fauna and flora, the land owners’ duty, the accountability of the local authority (land owner) and the demands of those using and claiming that space.

The woodland and Tree resource at Highbury

The tree resource at Highbury consists of estate trees including remnant woodland/hedgerow trees from 150-200 years ago, along with recent park additions over the past 50 years with new plantations dating from the 1990’s and woodland enhancement since 2010.
These can be categorised or described as follows - veterans, collections, plantations, boundary (hedgerows), arboretum, exotic, native/indigenous, ecologically valuable ornamental, invasive species, productive, coppice, other..........
Each tree, plantation or collection will have value ascribed to modern thinking, needs and values. The job of Rangers, Friends and other park users, is to strive towards balance, a somewhat impossible state, but nevertheless  a philisophical concept that retains some understanding for the purpose of management planning.
Biodiversity ‘NI 197’ is modern in term and concept, and whilst the age old practice of ‘coppicing’ is ancient it serves to compliment the principles behind the ‘biodiversity’ cause.
What is National Indicator 197?
It measures the performance of Local Authorities at protecting and improving their local biodiversity. It is a calculation of the “proportion of Local Sites where positive conservation management has been or is being implemented”.
Biodiversity forms a part of many other National Indicators but NI 197 is the
only indicator which directly measures the results of Local Authority actions on wildlife. NI 197 acts as a proxy for the state of local biodiversity as it is speci c and measurable. 
Management planning is what we are currently undertaking through on-site consultation, park walks, HOCCIC meetings, HP Friends meetings, social networking, themed events, children’s activities, promotions, notice board posters, news items, press releases and emails etc. - stakeholders include the following-

  • Constituency Parks Manager - overview of tree management and safety as well as all other park operations
  • Tree Officer - overview of tree management and safety
  • Rangers - consideration of park biodiversity and community engagement
  • HP Friends - interest in all park operations
  • Highbury Orchard Community - co-ordination of projects, community engagement, activities, events, liaison with Council and all interest groups, compiling business planning model.
  • Chamberlain Highbury Trust

Initial management ideas for Highbury trees, woodlands and hedgerows

  • increase hazel cover in current plantations aiming to maximise hazel coppice yield
  • plant hazel in strategic areas of the park for future coppicing
  • diversify oak plantation with mix of broadleaf species
  • identify locations within the park for ‘standard’ tree replacement
  • identify areas for new woodland or expand current plantations
  • consult with tree officers and other experts to address Beech woodland management
  • manage hedgerows through laying where appropriate
  • plant new trees and shrubs along old hedgerow lines
  • manage veteran trees through surgery and other means to maximise longevity
  • complete woodland management plan


  1. Another first class and very informative blog Alf!

  2. It's brilliant that we should be having this 'conversation' about woodlands in a major city

  3. It's brilliant that we should be having this 'conversation' about woodlands in a major city


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